mental health, midlife, motherhood, my thing, self discovery, travel, wanderlust

is portland my thing

As I write this I am hurtling through the air on a jet plane from Vancouver to Portland (for work and a little bit of pleasure, woot! woot!).

This is my first time on a flight since the end of 2019 because of that whole pandemic thing, and it all feels a bit surreal, like a Hall Monitor is going to leap around the corner at any moment and boom, “Get back inside!” with gleeful intensity. 

After extra laundry and cleaning and arrangements for the cat and dog and a pre-flight covid test and packing and submitting all my “I’m not a viral menace I swear” paperwork and extra hugs and kisses from the kids… I’m finally off. 

Credit: Photo by Zack Spear

I have never been to Portland before. A big New Thing for the month. The first few days I am in meetings and then John is joining me for some touristy coffee and beer and food cart food and whatever other cool things you do in Portland (I am hearing a lot about Voodoo Donuts so that will definitely be a stop). 

I have never been to Portland before and I have feelings about this.

I have feelings that I am supposed to have, and then I have feelings that I am not supposed to have and they are kind of confusing me. 

It’s “both/and” situation. I am having both positive and, to be honest, reticent feelings about the next 6 days. 

I am keen to kick off the professional portion of the trip, AND

I am a little nervous doing this in person for the first time in awhile, AND

I am looking forward to flexing my organizational planning muscles (I do strat planning stuff for work), AND

I know all this one-on-one time is going to tire my introverted self out, AND

I am excited to relax in a new city with John, AND

I am looking forward to having some well-earned kid-free time, AND

I know the kids are okay, but I still hope they are okay, AND

I am bummed I am not going to sleep as well because that never happens and I love sleep, AND

DONUTS, AND

I’m not as excited as I thought I would be. 

Huh? 

I’m not as excited as I thought I would be?!?!

That feels horribly… rude and ungrateful and… what?!

I love traveling! 

What is going on? 

I have been lucky to travel a fair amount for work and life and I have loved it. While in my 20s I jumped on every plane, train and automobile with zest and a willingness to work every extra hour and shake every additional hand… but somewhere along the line a shift has happened. That all-or-nuthin divebomb is not my reality any more.

I am thrilled and motivated to rally the troops and roll my sleeves up, but it feels different. Being completely consumed by it all is… not as consuming. 

I think what is happening is that now in my 40s, “excited” just feels different to me.

In my 20s, “being excited” was more of an “all of me” tornado force of energy. I was all in with all my focus and attention. My exhilaration knocked every other possible emotion out of my sphere of awareness. 

Now, I suppose I have the bandwidth to feel excited, while at the same time preoccupied with how my daughter’s softball game went and how my son is doing with his sore stomach and whether international relations are as dire as they clearly seem to be. 

As I write all that, I guess my feelings of excitement aren’t as central to my overall state of being as they once were – so they aren’t more dull necessarily, just couched within the context of several other lives and experiences that are also important to me.

I suppose this is what one might call perspective. And evolution.

And growing up.

Overall I would say it is a good thing to not be so solely focused on my own experience. But it does also mark a shift, a click into a new chapter.

Although I know this already, I am not 20 or even 30 years old anymore. It was obviously never just about me… but now I understand that more. I experience that truth in a more nuanced way.

So, yes I am very much excited about my trip to Portland… it’s just that this excitement feels a bit more gentle than what I was expecting.

But it’s a nice feeling, just the same.

Also: VOODOO DONUTS thank you very much.

Credit: Photo by Cole Keister

I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…

4 thoughts on “is portland my thing”

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